By Joseph Sykes | Sports Editor
Friday’s intercity matchup between Pitt and Duquesne once again failed to reignite the two team’s old rivalry after the Panthers routed the Dukes 96-74 for their 15th straight victory over their Forbes Avenue neighbors.
Heading into the game, the Dukes were 6-1 – their best start to a season in eight years. The Panthers, on the other hand, came into the matchup with four wins; however, they were coming off a tough loss to the 11th ranked Purdue Boilermakers.
From the opening tipoff, the Panthers took control of game, snagging rebounds left and right and hitting the right shots when they needed to. Just six minutes into the game, the Dukes found themselves down 17-4, but were able to close the gap after Derrick Colter, who had 11 total points in both the first half and the game, nailed a layup to bring the score to 23-35 with seven minutes left in the half. That was the closest they would get to creating a comeback, however. By the end of the first 20, though, the Panthers’ offense exploded and led the Dukes by 27 points.
“It was frustrating because we came in very confident about tonight and we just didn’t get the job done,” senior guard Micah Mason said. “We didn’t execute on offense or defense and that’s the main reason we lost.”
The second half wasn’t as gruesome for the Dukes as the first was. The team was able to close the 30-point gap to 18 at one point, but that’s the best they could do.
Throughout the whole game, the Dukes were unable to get its star players going, which was a huge reason they were blown out. With the exception of Colter, guys like Mason, Eric James and TySean Powell were for the most part nonexistent. James did set a career high in points after a late layup gave him 19 points. His previous career high was 18.
Mason, who shockingly went 2-4 from behind the arc, his sweet spot, explained why he was so passive against the Panthers.
“James Robinson did a great job with me tonight, [he] didn’t really leave me,” Mason said. “I couldn’t really get the ball and drive so I had to create room, and I didn’t.”
Head coach Jim Ferry is not going to let the disappointing loss to their crosstown neighbors sour the successful season they had so far, though. 6-2 is still a great record; Ferry wants to continue to build on it.
“[The loss] is not going to define our season,” he said. “It’s not going to define us at all. We know we’re still a good team. We got thumped today by a better team. We’re going to see what we’re made of on Sunday when we show up to practice.”
The Dukes look to quickly put this loss in the rear-view mirror when they return to action Tuesday night against the University of Maryland – Baltimore County at 7:00 p.m. in the Palumbo Center.